I’m anxious, I’m sleep-deprived, I have a hard time focusing and I’m pretty much always exhausted. I’ve tried conventional therapies for these ailments and been met with limited success. I’ve tried to swallow both pills, hard truths, and air in the context of meditation work. Nothing has profoundly really moved the needle – though I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that Xanax has helped.
This is all to say that I was susceptible to the Apollo Neuro sales pitch. My desperation overpowered my skepticism.
The Apollo Neuro is a strap worn on the wrist or ankle that delivers a series of light vibrations, akin to your phone vibrating in your pocket, and claims to “retrain the nervous system” to adapt to stress more efficiently. The length, intensity and rhythm of the vibrations are determined by which session the wearer has chosen in the Apollo smartphone app.
There are a handful of different “Apollo Vibes” sessions for improving sleep, focus or increasing calm during the day. They can last anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour depending on the user’s selection, and the intensity of the vibrations can be augmented on the bracelet itself. There’s a rhythm for waking up, a rhythm for socializing, a rhythm for getting work done, and a rhythm for falling asleep. In each case, the idea is to limit heart rate variability, an indicator of bodily stress throughout the day.
With consistent use, the Apollo Neuro is designed to help lower chronic stress by using touch therapy through sound waves of vibration to calm the nervous system and lower the frequency of fight-or-flight responses. Rather than turning on and intervening in moments of high stress, the Apollo is a discipline like meditation or mindfulness that needs to be used frequently in order to, theoretically, make a difference.
As with any good, culty wellness widget, the Apollo Neuro purports to work better the more you use it. The recommended minimum use is three hours a day, five days a week. That’s a lot. It’s a relationship. It’s a best friendship. It’s a commitment.
- Worked most effectively for falling and staying asleep
- Actually comfortable to wear, despite how it looks
- Easy-to-use app that logs progress and awards frequent use
- It’s a pricey investment
- Some vibes can be difficult to get used to
- Have to use consistently to see significant results
In truth, the Apollo didn’t do much of anything for me during the day, except become an annoyance when I’d try to get through the “meditative” Energy and Focus sessions of wrist vibrations while trying to accomplish other tasks. You’re supposed to let them play in the background while going about your normal routine, but I found them super distracting while trying to get actual work done. Being distracted from my pressing deadlines ended up stressing me out even more, and I reached a breaking point a few times and just turned the device off.
After a month of using it, I found that Apollo’s Unwind and Sleep modes had me nodding off much faster than the ASMR videos and indica gummies I’d relied on previously. The gentle buzzing became a mental weighted blanket. The help was in line with the $349 price tag. There are cheaper ways to source a gentle whirring sound, but nothing quite as effective. It’s a plug-and-play quasi-solution. But aren’t they all quasi-solutions?
Apollo Neuro FAQ
What is the Apollo Neuro?
A wearable vibrating device designed to “rebalance your nervous system by improving heart rate variability.”
How do you use the Apollo Neuro?
Strap it around your wrist or ankle and sync it with the Apollo app on your phone. Choose from one of seven Vibes to reduce anxiety during various stress-inducing situations you may face throughout the day.
Are the results backed by science?
For the most part. Apollo prides itself on conducting independent studies and research to verify the benefits of vibration frequency and how it impacts the body, but there are only a handful of clinical trials that have been conducted using the device itself. The results of those studies, which are double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trials, mostly consist of subjective responses from athletes that the vibrations are “calming” and therefore may have an effect on recovery, rather than actual evidence that they do.
How quickly will you feel results?
This depends entirely on the person and how disciplined they are with using it, but Apollo says it can take up to 30 days for some people to experience relief.
This sounds like a Pavlovian technique for relaxation, which makes me sort of uncomfortable.
That wasn’t a question, but it’s a fair critique. Jury’s still out on whether this or Xanax will stick around as my #1 seed anxiety technique.